FC Halifax Town 3 Blackburn Rovers 1

Liam Needham fights for the ball in Town's 3-1 win
Liam Needham fights for the ball in Town's 3-1 win

The Shaymen picked up a morale boosting 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers after an impressive pre-season performance at the Shay.

First half strikes from the in form Lee Gregory and skipper Danny Lowe and a late Dale Johnson header were enough to see off a Blackburn Rovers Xi, who scored late through Jordan Slew.

Click here to see the picture gallery - photographs by Jim Fitton

Neil Aspin again made several changes from the side which beat Salford City 4-1 on Tuesday night, with Jason St Juste and Lee Gregory, who both scored against the Manchester club, retaining their places as the Shaymen began in a 3-5-2 formation for the first time in pre-season.

The first chance fell to Gregory, who saw his left foot shot blocked by Rovers ‘keeper Seb Usai after a ball from Ryan Toulson found its way to him after eight minutes.

Rovers, fielding a team made up of reserves and academy players, were energetic in the open stages and got their first effort on target after 17 minutes when Jordan Slew scuffed a right volley volley at Matt Glennon after a long ball from Osayaman Osawe.

Shortly afterwards, fast feet from Gareth Seddon won Town a free-kick 20 yards out which Paul Marshall curled left footed into the chest of Usai, and just after the half our mark Town were ahead.

An early clearance from Glennon picked out Seddon, who out muscled the Rovers skipper Anthony O’Connor and burst into the box.

The former Fleetwood man rounded the keeper but with the angle shrinking, his shot bounced back off the near post into the path of Gregory, who slammed home from six yards for his fifth pre-season goal.

Town were brimming with confidence and could have had a second three minutes later when Seddon‘s powerful effort from just outside the box was palmed away by Usai, but the Rovers stopper could do nothing to stop Town’s second.

A short corner from Marshall picked out the unmarked Danny Lowe, who arrived right on cue to rifle a left foot effort into the bottom right hand corner on 40 minutes to give Town a 2-0 lead at the break.

Luke O’Brien was introduced at the interval for St Juste at left wing back, and it was down that side that Town created the first chance of the half when Marshall was released by Seddon, but despite two attempts to pull the ball back to Gregory, Rovers eventually cleared.

At the other end Glennon was tested for the first time when he pushed a way a close drive from Slew as Rovers, who were made to look poor by Town in the first half, tried to go up a gear.

Either side of a double substitution - Gregory and Seddon making way for Jamie Rainford and Dale Johnson - Hugo Fernandez Molina saw his tame 25-yard shot saved and Slew saw his hooked effort blocked from a corner.

Rainford, who has been impressive throughout pre-season, saw right foot effort saved by Usai after a good turn from Johnson, but Rovers looked more threatening as the game went on and would have pulled one back had Glennon not produce a strong left handed save to deny Micah Evans after he raced clear of the Town defence on 73 minutes.

Rovers did get one back five minutes to go - Slew’s 25 yarder proving too hot for Glennon to handle as the keeper couldn’t get enough on it to keep the ball out, but Town settled any jitterds with a third in the 88th minute as Johnson rose highest to power home an in swinging Rainford free-kick.

FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Toulson (Needham, 70 mins), St Juste (O’Brien, 45 mins), Hogan, Futcher, Lowe, Worthington, Jarrett (Worsley, 70 mins), Marshall (Akidaki, 70 mins), Gregory (Johnson, 58 mins), Seddon (Rainford, 58 mins). Unused subs: Senior, Needham, Worsley, Qualter, Akidaki.

Blackburn Rovers Xi: Usai (Cotton, 70mins), Daly (Wylie, 70 mins), Beesley (Mason, 70 mins), Molina, O’Connor, Anderson, Evans, Hanley, Osawe (Haley, 58 mins), Slew, McClaren (Lenihan, 45mins).

Attendance: 812.